So will I buy an iPhone 3G?
Jul 15, 2008

With all my posts about the new iPhone software that I've got installed on my first-gen iPhone (and I do mean first-gen, it's a 4 GB), the question still remains of if I'll upgrade my hardware as well. There's definitely some good arguments either way, but my answer, at this point, is a resounding maybe. To be honest, I don't really care about the 3G data speeds. EDGE is by no means blazingly fast, but it meets my needs sufficiently well that I'm don't feel the need to upgrade just for the faster data network. The feature that really does attract me, however, is the GPS functionality. The built-in Google maps feature that I've got now is nice, and certainly a lot more convenient than having to look up direction on your computer and print them out, but it's definitely less useful than it could be largely because it requires user input to be of any use. You have to take your eyes off the road and your hand off the wheel/shifter so you can see have it show you the next step in the directions. Because of that limitation I have been, for a while now, seriously considering buying a TomTom GPS navigation device for the car. The existence of real GPS on the iPhone, however, calls that plan into question. Especially as the price of a TomTom is greater than or equal to the price of a new iPhone minus the proceeds I might get from selling the one I've got. Yesterday AutoBlog posted a review of the GPS functionality on the iPhone. Apparently it leaves a bit to be desired, and doesn't actually do anything more than the old iPhone does except have a more accurate idea of where you are and put a moving dot on the map to show your position along the route. It doesn't automatically tell you what the next step in the directions are, you still have to do that yourself. So with things as they are, there's really no reason for me to even consier getting an iPhone 3G. It offers no compelling new features for me. But wait! Just before the iPhone 3G was released, TomTom announced that they were working on porting their software to an iPhone app! When they made this announcement there was all sorts of speculation as to why it would never work. Some insisted that the iPhone SDK agreement forbid the development of navigation apps. Some insisted that the iPhone 3G's GPS antenna wasn't good enough to provide turn-by-turn directions. Since then, however, there's been clarification from both Apple and TomTom that there is no legal or technical barrier to this happening. TomTom reports that they've got the software pretty much working as well. So I think it's just a matter of time (weeks, hopefully) before we see the iPhone becoming a fully featured GPS navigation device. Even better, it will be a GPS navigation device with internet access! That means that all of the advanced features that TomTom currently offers (if you have a compatible bluetooth enabled phone) should work including real-time traffic reports and, what I think is one of the coolest, buddies! So basically, if the TomTom software proves to work well, I'll probably get an iPhone 3G. If it doesn't, I probably won't, at least not until either TomTom or someone else does get a good GPS navigation app out there. Assuming, of course, that I don't get tired of waiting and just buy a TomTom device.
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